Philadelphia Social History Project Series

The Philadelphia Social History Project (PSHP), directed by Theodore Hershberg at the University of Pennsylvania, was a pioneering effort by an interdisciplinary group of scholars and students to study the historic social, economic, and demographic dynamics of Philadelphia. Begun as a comparative study of social mobility in a 19th-century city, the PSHP grew into a broad example of "New Urban History." The PSHP compiled a machine-readable data base unprecedented at the time, including block-by-block description of the 2.5 million persons living in Philadelphia in the years 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 and hundreds of thousands of individual persons and families as well as the city's housing, businesses, manufacturing firms, and transportation facilities. Additionally, the PSHP reconstructed the careers of thousands of ordinary persons to permit longitudinal analysis on the individual level.